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Out of control

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- This is what makes a defense angry.

:09, 1:36, 1:02, 1:33, :54, :49, :47, :10, 2:22, 1:40.

Those were the times of possession on 10 of the Bears' 13 offensive drives Sunday in their 27-17 loss to Green Bay, not counting their final drive of the game, which ended when time expired.

All the Bears' defense had to do in between gasping for air for an average of 90 seconds on the sidelines, was stop Aaron Rodgers and Jermichael Finley and the rest of the Packers' offense -- seven times from the Green Bay 37-yard line or better.

Unable to sustain a ground game that should eat up time, out of kilter in the air, tied for 11th in the league in penalty yards (173) and 29th in third-down efficiency (28 percent) after Sunday's games, it all adds up to ugliness for the Bears' offense. And in the overall scheme, it shaves time off the collective window of a defense which may not be able to prop up the entire team much longer.

So far this season, the Bears' defense has been far from perfect. Ranked 25th in total yards allowed per game (386.7), 26th against the pass and 18th against the rush, Rodgers and Finley had their way against the Cover-2 with the Packers eating up yardage in incremental chunks. And for the third straight week, the Bears' opponent has gained 100 yards rushing.

The defense has been critical over its relative lack of takeaways, and Lance Briggs wiped out an interception and potentially long return by Charles Tillman on the first series of the game, although it's unlikely Rodgers would have thrown that pass had Briggs not jumped offsides. Briggs redeemed himself in the fourth quarter by forcing a fumble recovered by Julius Peppers, which the Bears converted into a 32-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Kellen Davis.

But when Brian Urlacher once again handed the offense an opportunity on the Packers' next possession with his second diving interception of the season, the Bears' offense promptly marched backward in one of the more ghastly series you're ever going to see.

"We needed to get [the turnovers] earlier," Urlacher said. "I don't know why we didn't. It's not like we didn't try, we just didn't get there. We didn't make enough plays on defense. We're going to have to play better to beat these good teams."

Still, every time Lovie Smith says it is absolutely imperative for the Bears to force turnovers in order to win, you can't help but wonder, 'Wait, even with a high-powered offense?'

And so the question persists whether the Bears defense is still capable of carrying the team on a consistent basis. And how much longer exactly does the offense -- 30th overall last season and currently 23rd -- need to get used to Mike Martz' system, which is one of the many excuses the Bears have offered?

Recall that Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith fired offensive coordinator Ron Turner two years ago and brought in Martz, the offensive "guru," for his system's firepower.

In five seasons under Turner, the Bears averaged 21.5 points per game. And under Martz -- 20.9 points in 16 games last season and 20 in three games this season.

While Martz teams have routinely shown an increase in passing yardage, the overall offensive output has not necessarily followed because the rushing games were so neglected. In '06, Jon Kitna and the Lions went from 26th in the league in passing the season before to 7th. But Detroit was 32nd in rushing, 22nd in total yards and 21st in points scored as the Lions finished 3-13. In '07, the Lions were 9th in the league in passing but 31st in rushing, 19th in yards and 16th in points scored, though the team improved to 7-9.

J.T O'Sullivan and Shaun Hill ran the San Francisco offense for Martz in '08 and again improved to 13th in passing from 32nd the year before. But they were 27th in rushing, 23rd in points scored and 24th in total yards.

So far, the Bears' defense has said all the right things and been publicly supportive of an offense that is trying all of Chicago's patience. In fact, if there is going to be an implosion, my money is on it happening within the offense first.

But the Bears are 29th in time of possession after three games, and it's one more stressor they don't need.

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.